Firms employing more than 250 workers could have to publish details of any gender pay gap – and face sanctions if they fail to do so – by the end of this year if the Government meets its target for implementing planned new legislation.

It is understood that Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton will bring the Heads of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill to Cabinet by the end of this month.

The legislation will also allow for Workplace Relations Commission inspections, fines and enforcement of compliance through Circuit Court orders.

Failure to comply with any such court order could result in a finding of contempt of court.

While it is unclear how much this additional administrative requirement will add to the cost base of individual firms, the legislation will oblige the Minister to have regard to the cost of compliance that may arise for employers.

If passed, the legislation will initially require employers with more than 250 employees to publish details of any gender pay gap.

However, that threshold would fall to 150 workers two years later, and to 50 after a further 12 months.

At least once a year, employers will have to reveal gender differences for full-time, part-time and temporary workers regarding not just basic hourly pay, but also bonuses and benefit in kind perks.

They will also have to provide a breakdown of male and female employees in lower middle and upper pay bands, as well as by job classification.

This will apply not just to private sector companies, but also to sectors of the public service.

The legislation will be reviewed after five years.